Leadership is…

The Happiness at Work Manifesto

A couple of weeks ago I was writing my regular op-ed piece on leadership for a major Danish newspaper and I was plumb out if ideas. It’s funny how your creativity can get stuck when you’re looking at an empty word document and a looming deadline :o)

So I asked for ideas in my twitter feed (follow me on twitter) and got tons of input, of which the email I got from Joe D. Calhoun, Director of Business Development at Paraco Gas Corporation was by far the coolest.

Here is Joe’s email in full – read and enjoy, it’s excellent!

When it comes to leadership … we have all been told leaders are born, not made, that leadership is about ego, nice guys finish last. BUNK …. Leadership is all about happiness. Seeking a means to find the greatest good for the greatest number of people. If you’re happy and your know it … share it … find a way to lead others to it … nice guys DO finish first.

Leadership is also NOT about a title or a job or position. I have had jobs that were very low on the totem pole of life and yet I was looked up to for my leadership of taking on a task and seeing it through to completion … all the while doing it with my “excessively happy” style. Volunteerism is leadership of the happiest sort. A labor of love … working for free (and I have been doing a lot of that lately as I have been un-employed) and supporting a cause – sometimes one that is not sexy and glamorous. This year I helped an organization plan, solicit donations, decorate, facilitate live and silent auctions, all to raise $20,000 for the treatment of drug and alcohol additions. I loved it … Leadership is love.

Leadership takes energy … do you know any energetic people that are not happy? Energy to face the challenges of anything with a smile on your face and find new ways of solving problems.

Ask most leaders … they will tell you … they feel “called” to lead. Every calling has an innermost happiness associated with it. I recently accepted a job offer … I knew 30 minutes into the interview that I would take the job … it felt right in my gut. I felt like I was supposed to be doing this. This sense of calling came while discussing the opportunity and the company. I had prepared three pages of notes for the interview … questions … things I thought I wanted to discuss. Instead we talked about the industry … laughed and I read the plan they had for expansion of the department. I was the right peg for the hole … I knew it … they knew it. Leadership is having a calling and answering it … and that feeling in your gut is ultimately tied to “how happy will this make me?”

That’s a nice little manifesto for leadership right there! Click here for more cool thoughts from Joe.

Your take

What do you think – are leaders born or made? Does your boss have your happiness in mind? Is there any room for love in your workplace?

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17 thoughts on “Leadership is…”

  1. I doubt we can talk about “born to be a leader”. As a lot of other things, I would say leadership is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration.

  2. My boss is a very energetic person, but I don’t know if he’s also very happy. Most of the time his thoughts seem to be on a bunch of other things, not on happiness at our workplace or happiness of his staff.
    I’d like to change that, though.
    He ist a very charismatic person and I think if he focused more on happiness our company could certainly outpace some rivals and achieve goals more quickly.

  3. Well said! It is an interesting take on leadership. I do believe that sometimes, it takes more than being happy or even making someone unhappy in order to lead well. However, at the same time, I love this approach of leadership. Share and lead others to the happiness that you’ve found. What a wonderful thought!


  4. leadership is a calling, yes, I also believe in that but we must admit, there are some people who possess that inner trait. people who were born to capture other people’s attention and actually lead the way effortlessly. I still believe that there are people who were born with it and this trait should be nurtured because it is rare. on the other hand, there are leaders who made it to that position just because they put a lot of hardwork into it and well, they have succeeded.

  5. That’s a smart man- I remember a time where I thought there was no way possible to be a leader, thinking it was a hereditary gene that somehow passed me over. Passivity is a choice, and leadership is a privilege that is not limited to a select few.

  6. Imo, leadership can be learnt. True leaders are the ones that can make their people happy and motivated and at the same time achieve their goals. Unfortunately, that is extremely hard to achieve…

  7. That’s a nice post. I agree that leadership can be developed and nurtured, especially with good mentors.

    I also agree that a “leader” can take many forms and isn’t just restricted to the regular images we have of CEO or manager.

    I think the best leaders aren’t necessarily the ones that are the “happiest” but the ones that show you they “care”. Care about the people they lead, and care (passion) about the job itself.

  8. Very interesting! Great leaders obviously know how to get the best out of the people they are leading, and so much of that has to do with facilitating happiness.

    Just read a book, “The Catalyst”, which had some great insights on how the best growth leaders get the most out of what they have. Much of what the authors talked about was engaging your workers passions to provide growth – if people are doing something they are passionate about, the happiness will come. Definitely resonates with this posting, great stuff.

  9. I think it’s definitely true that happy people make better leaders – I would feel much more inclined to follow someone who was cheerful and enthusiastic! However, I also think that people who may not necessarily be born leaders can still lead successfully.

  10. They are neither born or made….

    Leadership appears as the sum of all your experiences interacting with other people throughout all your upbringing an all of your adult life.

    The sum of it – is what decides whether you are fit for leading other people – or not.

    In other words: It’s “life learning”.

    Leadership is not something you aquire by learning a handful of well meant tricks from some shady life coach……

    People are very INCLINED to believe that they can learn leadership, because they want it to be true. So, people WILL buy into this kind of “training”. But, supporters and buyers does not mean it’s true. Not by a bit.

  11. I think people who take the lead have a natural quality that makes them want to do that; however, some of the best leaders are people who ‘learned’ true leadership over time.

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